March 7, 1997
LEE PATTERSON: Share a couple of thoughts about your round today.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's always nice to play a course of this stature without dropping a shot. And that's a goal of mine when you start a tournament. I only picked up three, but I suppose just the putts didn't quite drop the way I would have expected. But I birdied the hard holes. I didn't birdie any par 5s. I did it the hard way. I birdied 16, 18 and 7. And 18 and 7 are two of the toughest holes out there. I'm very happy. I came over for 7 weeks, I'm playing 6 tournaments out of 7. And I'm looking forward to it. I've got off to a good start and I'm very happy with that.
Q. Just talk about the run up to Augusta and finally breaking through in America, is that one of your big priorities?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I don't know about breaking through in America. I've lost in two major playoffs over here, that's not too bad.
Q. But winning the first time?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Winning - it's always a goal of winning - it doesn't really interest me, as long as I improve, that's my goal, is to improve as a golfer. And over here, the standard is so good that if you don't, you're out, you know, so I'm very fortunate I can play over here sometimes, occasionally. I've come over here about eight or nine times this year, and I'm looking forward to it. It's nice, the first tournaments got off to a reasonable start. People talk about leading up to Augusta, I would say leading up to TPC, that's a much harder tournament to win.
Q. What do you think of the changes on this course?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Obviously you're not going to please everybody with changes in design, and he's definitely made it harder, tougher. There's less places to hit the ball safely, if you know what I mean. But it's obviously tougher and that's all for the better. The standards are improving all the time. And it's important that these courses can toughen themselves up and hold their own. Toughening up, making it longer, and bringing bunkers back into play, and that's what he's done here.
Q. How many bunkers have you been in?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Enough. We all have. But they're not too bad to get out of, the lips aren't too severe. They're not what we'd call a bunker as a hazard. I wouldn't call them hazards as we do in Europe, but at the same time you've still got to think about it, and the ball isn't going to go as far out.
Q. The sand is softer?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Obviously they're fairly new, but that's okay.
Q. All things being equal, do you think you would improve more as a golfer playing here than playing in Europe?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Possibly, week in and week out, yeah, possibly. But No. 1 priority for me is my family. And my family are very happy where they are. If golf was my No. 1 priority, I would possibly come over here.
Q. How important is equaling and surpassing Peter Oosterhuis's record?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it's a thing that it might happen if I win this money list again for the 5th year running, it might. But it's not the first goal of mine this year. The first goal of mine is to improve, and if I improve things will take care of themselves, it's not something that I'm thinking about at this stage. I've only played 3 tournaments in Europe, things haven't really started yet. If I'm thinking about that I'm worrying myself to an early grave.
Q. In other words, equaling that wouldn't have any bearing on whether you came to America in the future?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not at all, not at all. If I go 5, 6 or 7, I'll stay where I am for the foreseeable future. If things change I'm not saying I'll ever shut the door and play again. I do enjoy playing here. The courses are off a standard where we don't see week in and week out in your opinion. And obviously you've got the top players here, as well. So it's great to come over and compete.
Q. How big an influence has Nick Faldo's sort of regimen or plan been on you in terms of what he's trying to accomplish by living here?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: He's in a different situation, he's got an American girlfriend and his situation is very different than mine. I don't have an American girlfriend (laughter).
Q. Can we quote you on that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it's a fact, and I'm very happy where I am. Home in England. But his situation changed as we all know last year, and all credit to him. He's come over here and done very well. But it hasn't influenced me one way or another.
Q. Colin, I think you said the putts didn't drop today, do I take it from 245 you feel you could have scored better?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, yeah, I hit some good shots in there today. I think I only missed one green in regulation, which I'm satisfied with around a course of this quality, as I say. So, if I can play that way on the weekend and hole a few putts I'll be in contention.
Q. Run us through the birdies.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The birdies at the 16th was a 3-wood and a wedge to 8 foot. On 18 was a driver wedge to 4 foot. On 7 was a 3-wood, 9-iron to 20-foot. But it was a few 15 or 10-footers in there that just didn't go in, unfortunately, and there you go. I'll take 6 and 9 anywhere around here.
Q. Where did the wedge on 18 go?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: How far was it? It was 122 or 23 or something. Downwind, left and right, you still have to take it over the water slightly, which we never like doing, knowing you can count the distances there's no problem.
Q. Would you look forward playing that hole into the wind?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I never look forward playing that hole, no, whatever the wind (laughter.) Who would ever look forward playing that hole into the wind?
Q. Is it too tough now?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, no, not at all. I'm all for tough courses. I love the U.S. Open venues out here and that sort of thing. The Ryder Cup at Oak Hill, that was a typical U.S. Open place, the tougher the better, as far as I'm concerned.
Q. That hole in particular?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That hole is a very tough hole. You've got to draw your drive with the water. Once you've hit the fairway that's only half the battle, and now you have to hit the green and try to 2-putt. That is a tough hole, and we should be finishing with tough holes, and we've got the toughest of the lot there.
Q. Is that the easy pin down there also today?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Possibly. You still have to be careful, though, you can back it up into the water in a hurry. Or you can be too safe and go in the back banker and now you're looking at anything. If there was an easy one, I suppose that's it.
Q. How is your fitness going, the program, are you still on the heavy exercise?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not as much as I was, no.
Q. Have you regained much weight?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I've put on about ten pounds since I came over here last year, but that's no problem. As long as I can manage to walk around 18 holes of golf every day I'm quite happy.
Q. You're still down 20 where you were?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm still down 20 from '95, yeah.
Q. You can serve can you tell us about the Ryder Cup team and how it's shaping up?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The American team is looking very strong.
Q. Well, the European team?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The European team, it's very early date, really. There's a lot of games to be played. Seve is talking about this change in the goal post halfway through the event, whether that's possible. If it's possible I'm in favor of changing it. If it's possible. I'm not involved in the politics of it, but if it's possible we've got two players that are coming back, and of course Sandy Lyle, as well, that's come back to form. Olazabal, Parnevik, we've got Nick and Langer's not there either, so we've got 6 guys for sort of two spots. It's not looking real clever. I know myself that watching the International Team at the Presidents Cup that will the European team needs our strongest team to compete. And it would be a shame to leave out some players of that call better. But we'll see how it goes. Hopefully we can do something about that, but that's follow the hierarchy of the European TOUR, not to me.
Q. If you were making an argument to make it a fair solution, what would your argument be, say we need four picks?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'd have 12 picks, that's standard issue. But to make it fair I think the fairest situation would be the two strongest teams, whatever way we get to that is -- might be differing views other than I take. But to me the fairest game is having the two strongest teams.
Q. The way the Presidents Cup is, I guess, brought about by that world rankings, would you like to see it switched to that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Possibly. There's a possibility of that way. I'm not sure how these things work. I just qualify for the team and go and play. But I would like to see our strongest team competing, because I know as well as you do that we need our strongest team to compete against the Americans, who are looking very, very strong, obviously.
Q. Colin, looks like on the American side there will be three or four players in their mid 20's. Of Padraig Harrington and McGinley and Coltart over in Europe, do any of those players come to mind as impressing you, look like they're going to be playing on the Ryder Cup for several years to come?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Let's hope so, we've got to get new blood in. We've had a few guys that reached the 40 mark and above and possibly won't be playing again. But we've got to fill them in good quality players. We've got a few good players, as you mentioned coming through, and hopefully can make the team do well. One is making the team and another thing is perform when you're in it and that's a whole different ballgame. But, yeah, I mean we should be okay. We should be okay. We've got a great advantage in playing the course that we're playing, that we all play The Masters, the TOUR Championship every year, as you're probably aware, and we've played that 8 years. A great advantage. We need all the help we can get.
Q. Do you see your role on the team a little different maybe comparing those players to where you were in '91, '93?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sure, sure, everybody comes to a stage when I was under Nick Faldo's winning in '91 and '93, and now it's changing where I might be given a rookie to play with, myself, now, and lead on from there. But, it's fine, I'll be happy if Seve picks me to play the first morning, I'll be quite happy.
Q. Nick always gears his game to majors. What's your thinking on that, is that your big priority?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, not particularly, no, no. He tends to do things his own way, you know. And people have been successful doing -- copying him or doing the exact opposite. And I just take every TOUR, hopefully as it comes and hopefully as similar as any other. I've been trying out here on the weekend as if it was a major championship. I've never won in the states, so it would be nice to do that on one of these six events. I'd take the 5th one, I must admit.
Q. Is this the first time you've brought your family over for an extended stay?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: My family aren't actually here. I've got my father here this week, but my family come over just for three weeks just for Easter holidays. Yeah, it's the first time they've actually been over here for a lengthy period. I'm away for 7 weeks and they won't see me, so they're coming over to what I do, instead of what they do. So they're following me.
Q. Do you think they might form an impression of America that might make your --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You're trying, aren't you? You are trying. I'll give you credit, you must admit. No, no, there's no -- no. They're just coming over for a break. I've got a week off between the TPC and Augusta which my daughter is four years old now, so she can appreciate Disney a little more, so it's lucky we're into the area, but don't read anything into the fact that they're here.
Q. Is Orlando kind of your base when you're here?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It just so happens that we've got Bay Hill, TPC and a week off afterwards. We're going to go back to Orlando. So it's July the way it works. If it was over on the west coast I'd have to get somewhere over there. It just so happens that it's Orlando time of year.
LEE PATTERSON: Thank you, we appreciate your time.
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